Books & Media

Perennial Plate Video: Finding a Meal in the Crack of a Sidewalk

I was in New York last week and saw something peculiar at one of the farmers markets: lambs quarters and nettles selling for several dollars a pound. I guess it's understandable considering those weeds probably aren't thriving between sidewalk cracks in New York; but in Minneapolis, it's another story. Here, these delectables are growing in great abundance just outside your front door.

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"Cook Food: A Manualfesto" That Makes You Want to Run to Your Kitchen

I’ll admit to feeling some trepidation before opening my review copy of Lisa Jervis’ Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Healthy, Local Eating (PM Press, 2009). Sure, I’d just finished a bowl of kale and potato soup, made by my own hands with greens from my local farmers market. And earlier I’d eaten a snack of raw asparagus spears from the same source. But while I aspire to fresh, healthy, local eating, I’m imperfect. Did a book with the word “manualfesto” in the title have room for my chocolate-eating, Coke Zero-drinking self?

I needn’t have worried. Jervis’s slim, informative volume is, in her words, “a short, quirky education in simple cooking; healthy, light-footprint eating; and the politics of food.”  It is indeed: not an exhaustive overview, but a brief, clear discussion that will make an excellent resource for those new to local eating as well as those familiar with the movement. 

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June’s Simple, Good and Tasty Book Club Pick: Food Matters

Mark Bittman, cookbook author and New York Times columnist, takes a balanced look at our food lives in Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. Packed with recipes and sensible advice, Bittman brings us another step closer to taking all of the thoughtful knowledge about food choices, environmental impacts, the Standard American Diet – ground other authors have indeed covered – and breaks it down in a simple, easy-to-use manner. 

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Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato

My tomato seedlings are dying on the windowsill. In my absence, my husband put them outside on sunny, too hot days. It was more than their delicate leaves could take and the tips started to brown and wilt before I could return to rescue them. Maybe this is what made my reading of Arthur Allen's Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato, so bittersweet.

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The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove

Cathy Erway’s first memoir, The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove, is the kind that includes recipes at the end of each chapter. Well it might: Erway spent two years cooking nearly every meal she ate, avoiding both restaurants and takeout food, and recording her experience at her blog, Not Eating Out in NY. This memoir shares what she learned during those two years, intertwining kitchen discoveries and personal revelations and including a thoughtful assessment of the state of eating out in America.

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Simple, Good and Tasty's May Bookclub Selection: This Organic Life

 The simple act of putting a shovel into the ground and tucking in the first seeds (or seedlings) without doubt means you’ve already decided to do things differently. Feeding yourself – with the efforts of your own two hands and contributions of a mostly organic nature – is an exercise in science, nature, tradition, history, politics and not just a little bit of faith. Not such a simple act, after all. 

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The Revolution Was Televised: Looking Back at Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Over the last two months, ABC aired Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a six-episode reality series documenting the English chef's mission to improve school food in Huntington, West Virginia. (The preview episode was the subject for one of my previous posts for Simple, Good and Tasty.) Was it a success?

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Making Maple Syrup With The Perennial Plate

We're big fans and supporters of Daniel Klein's The Perennial Plate, a weekly video series focused on connecting people with good food and its producers. Daniel's quest to experience a full year of good, local food in Minnesota has already had him killing and carving up his own Thanksgving turkey and visiting a Minnesota greenhouse in the heart of winter. This week's video features Daniel's new tree-tapping friend Chris Ransom, working his maple syrup magic:

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Fresh is Back and Taking the Twin Cities by Storm

The movie Fresh is one of our favorites. Compelling, entertaining, warm, funny, and unabashedly hopeful, the documentary aims to forward the cause of good, sustainable food by making it accessible. As director Ana Sophia Joanes put it in our interview last summer:

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Can You Eat Your Way to Happiness?

When you're as cynical as I am, the title of the book Eat Your Way to Happiness by Elizabeth Somer, sounds like a claim begging to be questioned. While I was reading her 10 diet secrets, I found myself wondering, "Yeah, but does it work?" I took a week to find out.

Fortunately, some of my approach to food already follows what Somer recommends. A large part of my diet already is "real food": I always eat breakfast and often whole grains, I don't drink much caffeine, and I eat lots of blueberries and other "superfoods." Still, some of the things she was asking me to do on this path to happiness were a challenge. I've grown used to having a beer while I cook dinner most evenings. Fatty fish twice a week would put a strain on my wallet. I was dubious that I could find an hour to do moderately intense exercise everyday.

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